There’s crying, and then there’s crying.
And then there’s what I do when I run out of coffee. Like crying, but manly. And shriek-y.
But so crying. Any new parent can tell you this. When the baby makes first makes her grand entrance, it’s really a freestyle improv stream-of-nascent-consciousness sort of jam.
But pretty soon it sorts itself into 4 distinct genres: Hungry, Tired, Uncomfortable, and the universally dreaded great grandaddy of all cries, Hurt. As little dude gets older things get a little fusion, Tired and Uncomfortable, like Aerosmith and Run DMC, break down walls both figurative, and…well, I guess just figurative, to create bold daring new styles of cry. Through a combination of pointing and those first words, they can start to articulate their needs. This means less crying over all, but also introduces an entirely new genre: Frustrated.
And then the kid gets older still, the gaps in vocab get filled, and crying pretty much becomes, once again, just crying.
This is where I found myself this morning as I held a little man who was very upset, firstly, that Mama had taken a shower, and secondly, that she had the unmitigated audacity to get out of the shower when she was done.
The nerve on that woman. I mean, really.
We’d been on the ‘crying is just crying’ station for long enough that I’d gotten used to it. But something different was afoot this morning. It took me a second to realize we were forging new territory. At that moment, we were creating an entirely new and unique genre. Something evolving organically, never before heard (at least by us). It was like watching what Michael Bolton always imagined himself to be.
Yes, I’m talking about Performance Crying.
It was hilarious, actually. He would start out with this sequence of squeaky whimpers like a rusty bike wheel, and then would end with some breathy sobs. Rinse and repeat.
He’d go through a few reps, stop, take stock of the situation, and then try a slightly new variation (a few more squeaks, a few less sobs, etc). Eventually I picked up that he was checking himself out in the reflection in the window. Dude was practicing crying. My presence, at that moment was entirely superfluous.
I was kind of proud, actually.
Fatherhood is very weird.